A Mississippi town is in the line of critics’ fire after it attempted to refer to the upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Day as “Great Americans Day.”
Yes, we are looking at you city of Biloxi, Mississippi!
“Non-emergency municipal offices in Biloxi will be closed on Monday in observance of Great Americans Day,” the city’s official twitter account said Friday night, sparking immediate backlash.
The tweet has since been deleted.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s called ‘Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.’” Biloxi Mayor Andrew Gilich later said in a statement posted on the city’s Facebook page.
This apparently is not true. “Great Americans Day” is a remnant of the hostile response many American towns gave when the first national Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated on Jan. 20, 1986, TIME reports.
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Two years after the U.S. government designated MLK Day a Federal holiday in 1983, the city of Biloxi legally renamed the state holiday to “Great Americans Day” — a form of erasure.
Indeed, a month before the first celebration, the Biloxi city council declared the third Monday of January a day “to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as other great Americans who have made important contributions to the birth, growth and evolution of this country,” the city explained in a statement. And that’s when “Great Americans Day” was born.
Mayor Gilich said the Biloxi City Council should change the city’s recognized name of the holiday to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
It was probably a good idea to not have waited over 30 years to catch up with the rest of the country!